It's more than Accessibility, It's accessing Abilities!

Assistive Tech Blog

Time to Switch!

One of the things that I am extremely passionate about is access. Access to computers, mobile devices, access to control their environment and access to the curriculum are so important. However, more important than the access itself is the ability to access their education, their world, and their dreams.

The power and importance of access became so apparent to me when I met Brian. Brian was a 50 year old county worker that lived about 50 miles north of us. He went through a series of strokes and lost almost everything except his mind and his sense of humor. The only thing he could move were his eyes and his chin. We set him up with a wobble switch at his chin and used a scanning system called SwitchXS which was made by Assistiveware. With the switch and scanning system, Brian had access to a computer. The computer gave him access to the internet, access to powerful tools and gave him his voice. I witnessed how access to the tools freed Brian from the things that were holding him back. I realized how these tools were more than accessibility, they were accessing abilities.

As I started working more with switch access, I was lucky enough to meet amazing users who were taking switch control to levels I couldn’t have imagined. People such as Sady Paulson and Christopher Hills who were using switch control to edit videos. I followed people like Mike Phillips who used switch control to become a gamer, reviewer and author.

So you can only imagine how excited I was when Apple included switch control as an integrated part of the iOS on their mobile devices. This switch control provided many more people access to these devices. It allowed access to apps for communication, publishing, creating music, writing, etc. Access to apps we all use in our lives. When Apple decided to include and support accessibility features on their devices; they made a statement that access for all users is not only important but a right. Not only is it a right but it is the right thing to do. Apple now includes accessibility features across all their devices - computers, mobile devices, Apple TV and Apple Watch. Other companies such as Microsoft, Google, Android are also recognizing the importance of accessibility and including these features in their operating systems. Exciting times.

Using switch control, switch users can do everything that is typically done with a keyboard and mouse. At that point the technology is transparent. We see the video editors, the publishers, the artists, the graphic designers, computer programmers, computer support, etc… As these access tools are updated and refined; I am so excited for what the future will bring.

Today’s switch users inspire me. However, they do not inspire me in the way you think. As I see the things that they are doing as video editors, authors, artists, computer support, etc…, I am inspired to find the other video editors, authors, artists, etc… who need access through switch control.

There are so many people that show how important and powerful switch control is. Users such as -

Sady Paulson

Christopher Hills

Todd Stabelfeldt

Mark Coppin